‘The way that I handled the situation wasn’t right’

Nov 6, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Wilson met with reporters inside the locker room just a few hours after Robert Saleh announced Mike White as the Jets’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The 23-year-old discussed how he felt upon hearing he wasn’t starting this weekend and also addressed his postgame comments following last Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

“It’s tough, man, and it’s never fun but the first thing that went through my mind is ‘I gotta get to work, I gotta get better,’ and I’m going to approach that every single day and just keep working to get better,” said Wilson, who learned of his benching on Tuesday evening.

“I wouldn’t say [I was] necessarily surprised because I haven’t been doing my job. Of course, I would like to not agree with the decision and everything, but it comes down to I gotta play better.”

Wilson threw for just 77 yards on 9-of-22 passing in Sunday’s loss, his second straight poor performance against the divisional rival Patriots. He then made headlines immediately after the game by simply saying “no” when asked if he felt like he let down the Jets’ defense.

The former second overall pick out of BYU told reporters that he addressed his teammates on Wednesday, taking accountability for his play and speaking “from the heart.”

“It’s deserved,” Wilson said about the criticism he’s received this week. “The way that I handled the situation wasn’t right. I’ve got to be a better football player and then I’ve got to be a better leader for these guys. I have an opportunity here to turn the page here as a player and as a leader and to be able to take a step forward and be able to be here 100 percent for my guys and be able to handle those situations correctly.

“I didn’t realize what was said. I let my emotions get the best of me and it almost took until a little bit after when we were getting ready and leaving and my pops gave me a call and said ‘Bro, what are you doing?’ I didn’t realize it. You can’t let the emotions get the best of you.”

Saleh spoke earlier on Wednesday about this being a chance for Wilson to come back “rejuvenated” and “renewed” as it offers the young signal-caller a chance to step back and work on some fundamentals that “have gotten really out of whack.”

And while Saleh said the “full intent” is to make sure Wilson gets back on the field at some point this season, the head coach explained he will take things day-by-day to determine when exactly Wilson might be back leading the huddle.

Until that time comes, though, Wilson is focused on improving every day in practice and being the best teammate that he can be.

“I have a lot to improve on and I’m going to keep working at it every single day,” he said. “This is going to be a good opportunity, a humbling opportunity for me to put my head down and work harder and just be here for this team.”